Austin Parks Foundation is spearheading a broad alliance of residents, park adopters and organizations from across Austin that are united and speaking with one voice about the importance of investing in Austin’s parks, trails and green spaces in the City of Austin’s FY18 budget.
While Austin appears at the top of almost every “best of” list, ParkScore, the Trust for Public Land’s gold standard index for parks, ranked Austin 46 out of the 100 most populous U.S. cities for how well we meet our resident’s needs for parks in 2017. Our peers know how important parks are for economic development, tourism, and the health of their citizens, and that’s why we need YOU to speak up for Austin’s cherished public spaces.
Sample Email to City Council
Dear Mayor Adler and Council Members,
We respectfully request an increase to the Parks and Recreation Department’s annual budget to support the $3.4 million increase as outlined by Austin Parks Foundation and park stakeholder groups across the city.
We understand the city is in the midst of a challenging budget year and recognize that you have difficult choices to make. We are asking you to make our cherished parks a priority in the budget this year.
We value Austin’s parks, which have tremendous health, ecological, economic and educational benefits for our city. We urge you to please invest in our parks to keep them safe and accessible for our community to enjoy.
Understanding the Needs
Austin has an amazing park and trail system with 300 parks, 227 miles of trails and more than 20,000 acres of green spaces in the city. Our parklands provide vital green space and wildlife habitat, and keep our environment healthy. Parks and trails are not only a critical part of our urban infrastructure, but they also have tremendous economic, health, ecological, and educational benefits as well. Unfortunately, annual investments in Austin parks, trails and green spaces are not keeping pace with the needs of a growing city.
The Trust for Public Lands’ ParkScore indicates that Austin currently only spends $103 per resident every year toward maintaining and enhancing our parks. That’s less than half the $208 average the top 10 ranked cities on ParkScore spend per resident. Our peers know how important parks are for economic development, tourism, and the health of their citizens, but the City of Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) needs our support.
PARD is doing the best they can with limited resources. The department’s current needs assessment indicates that approximately $700 million is needed for repairs and renovations to the system’s aging parks infrastructure. You can help us advocate for more funding to take care of these cherished public spaces!
How You Can Help
Use the link above and the language in the email template to craft a message to Mayor Adler and City Council. Add a personal note about how parks affect your everyday life here in Austin, and why you believe this funding is critical.
Use your voice to advocate for more park funding on Facebook and Twitter, and by postal mail. A list of each council member’s official social media channels, and their office addresses are linked below.
H-10: Aquatics Maintenance Funding, Sponsored by Alter & Pool
Core outcome: Health | Total: $400,000
Deteriorating and failing infrastructure and mechanical systems severely impact the stability of PARD aquatics operations and the safety of aquatics facilities. Currently, aquatic repairs are done reactively instead of proactively just to make it through each swim season. Since 2013, PARD has exceeded their allocated maintenance funding by an average of $400,000 annually.
H-7: Playground Safety and Maintenance, Sponsored by Alter & Pool
Core outcome: Health | Total: $405,359
The Playground program was transferred to the Grounds Maintenance Division in 2014 and was found to be deficient in staffing, inspections and timely repair of the playground equipment. The Districts moved one personnel to this team to complete repairs and inspections. Districts are also performing High Frequency Inspections, due to the fact that there are not enough personnel on the Playground team to do this. The hiring of 3 FTEs to perform the maintenance and inspections should alleviate the Districts of this responsibility. Also, with the hiring of a Parks Grounds Supervisor, the playground team will finally have a supervisor dedicated solely to this function.
H-21: PARD ADA Compliance, Sponsored by Pool
Core outcome: Health | Total: $1Million
PARD hired a contractor to independently complete an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assessment of the Austin park system. The assessment results include $140 million in built environment and programmatic recommendations that will allow PARD to employ current best practices with regards to program and service delivery and allow appropriate access for all individuals. $1 million would allow PARD to begin addressing ADA issues to ensure Austin is moving towards compliance with federal law.
H-15: Aging Museum and Cultural Center Infrastructure, Sponsored by Alter
Core outcome: Health | Total: $500,000
While safety is a primary concern of PARD, aging and deteriorating infrastructure poses a hazard in a variety of ways ranging from trip hazards to indoor environmental pollution. PARD must manage and address the high cost of operating and maintaining this infrastructure. In order to provide management responsibilities and sustainability efforts for meeting building LEEDS standards, energy and water conservation, PARD is requesting additional resources for facilities and grounds improvement. While the cost to make all needed repairs is $5.4 million, $500,000 would allow PARD to begin to address these issues at some of the following facilities: O.Henry Museum, Facility, Fleet, Aquatics, Trails, Holly Shore, Festival Beach, Nash-Hernandez Building, Gus Garcia, Tennis Courts, Metz Park
H-8 & S-8: Park Recreational and Security Lighting, Sponsored by Alter & Pool
Core outcome: Health and Safety | Total: $500,000
Improved recreational and security lighting for parks makes our parks and communities safer and healthier. Unfortunately not all parks across our city have adequate lighting and this investment would begin to address some of those inequities and improve neighborhood safety.
C-20: Carver Museum and Cultural Center Programming Enhancement, Sponsored by Houston
Core outcome: Cultural and Learning Opportunities | Total: $200,000
The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center experienced unprecedented demand for child and youth programming beginning with spring camps, summer youth programming and year-round after school due to demographic changes near the Center. These programs are extremely popular and extremely needed in an area that has been historically underserved. Its current budget of $16,150 for all temps for operations and programming cannot support the demand for programming.
H-9 & H-22: Cities Connecting Children to Nature, Sponsored by Alter & Pool
Core outcome: Health | Total: $70,000
The Cities Connecting Children to Nature (CCCN) program emphasizes abundant and equitable access to nature for the children of Austin, with a specific focus on children in low-income communities and children of color. The Program Manager would be responsible for executing the CCCN Implementation Plan and managing the CCCN Leadership Team and all Sub-Committees to define long-term strategy and vision to ensure nature access and connection for all of Austin’s children.
M-1: PARD Vehicle Replacement, Sponsored by Alter
Core outcome: Mobility | Total: $150,000
These resources would be used to replace three aging vehicles currently used by PARD for transporting senior citizens to and from programming at PARD facilities.
H-12:Youth Sports, Sponsored by Alter
Core outcome: Health | Total: $77,821
PARD partners with non-profit organizations (Youth Sports Organizations or YSOs) to provide recreational youth sports opportunities for Austin youth on private or public land as provided for by Ordinance 20100204- 309 and Administrative Rules: Section100 – Use of Athletic Fields by Youth Sports Organizations. PARD requests additional funding for this effort so that additional/new partnerships may be considered and approved for FY18 and beyond.
H-13: PARD Two 14 Passenger Buses, Sponsored by Alter
Core outcome: Health | Total: $130,000
Currently, community recreation center staff members drive 15 passenger vans to transport children under the age of 18. These vans do not conform to standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. Buses are needed to transport participants to and from school and during Summer Camps and camp days. PARD requests additional funding to purchase two 14 passenger buses.